Content managers have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders: They need to make sure their content helps customers and drives sales.
Consider the numbers: 80% of business decision makers look for information from articles instead of advertisements and 60% say content helps them make better decisions about products.
But forward-thinking companies don’t want to just drive sales. They want to help their customers be successful. The concept of customer success is relatively new. It speaks to the idea of proactively grooming customers, streamlining onboarding, and providing them with all the tools necessary to have a successful experience with your brand.
Customer success is not the same as customer support. In fact, Shreeshsa Ramdas, CEO and co-founder of Strikedeck says: “No customer support is required if customer success is done 100% right.” Content is a key part of this process, allowing customers to self-support with a well-curated knowledge base that speaks to their needs.
Here are some ways that brands can grow loyalty through content marketing for customers:
1. Define an ideal customer
The sales-driven company is different from the customer success-driven company in one important way: the latter strives to target and attract their ideal customer. Elizabeth DeMere of inbound.org, Product Hunt, and GrowthHackers explains:
“Customer success begins with identifying and attracting your ideal customer. And only one ideal customer. If you don’t know who your ideal customer is, then you don’t know how to speak their language. And you don’t know how to acquire and retain them.”
If your business hasn’t whittled this down to a science yet, a good place to start is Lincoln Murphy’s Ideal Customer Profile. The main thing is to determine the one perfect customer for a particular situation. This customer should be ready (have a problem to solve), willing (express motivation to solve that problem), and able (have the ability and authority to solve the problem).
2. Provide content that reflects various stages of the customer journey
It’s important to understand the entire customer journey when creating content and to cater to customers at each stage. Whether they’re doing research on your product’s features to figure out if it’s right for them, or talking to a customer service agent to take the last steps toward setting up multiple accounts, your customers should be able to find answers and suggestions designed exactly for that particular step of their journey.
Here are some content examples:
- The interest stage – Ebooks, tip sheets, guides, podcasts.
- The consideration stage – White papers, reports, videos, case studies.
- The purchase stage – Free trials, demos, FAQ pages.
- The loyalty stage – User community forums, emails, push notifications.
If your business doesn’t have a well-defined strategy for each sales funnel stage, consider the fact that companies with an articulated middle-of-the-funnel engagement strategy receive a response rate 4-10 times higher than companies that don’t.
By providing leads with the content they need at the right time in the sales process, you create a solid foundation for customer success.
3. Get readers to engage
Writing great content is a good start. But it’s only a start. There are a lot of content resources out there and your brand will be competing with them as soon as a customer types in a keyword search. To stand out from similar blogs, bring an element of interactivity to your content.
Brand Consultant Shenee Howard created an engagement strategy with her blog that worked. She broke a long topic down into several smaller blog posts and included “homework” for customers to do at the end of each blog. Engagement rates and the length of time readers spent on her blog increased.
Her explanation of why engagement works:
“It really positions you as a business and not just a free resource… if something is interactive and people engage with you, they feel like you really care and can really help them- they know you can, because you’ve already helped them. It turns readers into happy customers.”
4. Tailor your content to each platform
Content isn’t one-size-fits-all. You need to leverage each channel (and not just social media platforms). The content you include on Facebook will be different from content on your blog which will be different from the mobile version of your website, etc. Here are some best practices for different content platforms:
- Facebook. Content posted on Facebook should include images and videos, particularly live videos. Visitors spend more than 3x more time watching Facebook Live videos than videos that are no longer live. Make sure you post regularly and respond quickly to comments, messages, or questions. And learn the best times to post for maximum engagement.
- Blog. Longer is better (without fluff, of course). Blog guru Neil Patel reports that blog posts with at least 1500 words have the best SEO, social sharing, and engagement results. Including images and/or videos in your blog posts also boosts engagement.
- Mobile messaging. Texting is an effective tool for marketing and customer loyalty building. Since texts are instant and short (160 characters is the norm for a regular SMS message), you need to know how to write texts that encourage customers to engage with your business. Texts should provide an immediate value: Offer clear instructions on what they should do to sign up for a new beta, find out their monthly usage stats, talk to a customer service agent, etc.
- Email. Email is still a powerful channel to deliver content to your subscribers, both customers and non-customers alike. Here is how ChatMogul uses email to distribute content to their customers: Weekly roundup emails, monthly newsletters, thumbnails, and links to blog posts in notification emails.
5. Mind the success gap
The success gap lies between the functional set of your product or service and what the customer wants to achieve. For instance, you buy a subscription to a mobile marketing service and you consider yourself successful when you earn X amount of money during Y number of days or reach Z percent ROI for your mobile marketing campaign. And your task is to cover the success gap with your content.
Of course, your product can help them get where they want to be, but you can’t guarantee they will get there. As in our mobile marketing software example, the campaign should be well developed itself and then paired with a powerful customer success tool. But you can help them by teaching them how to build effective mobile campaigns.
Tip: Include a small pop-up box that allows readers to say whether your content was helpful. This way you will receive real-time feedback and get a chance to fine-tune your content.
Content managers who understand the needs of clients at every stage of the journey, have a clear definition of their ideal customer, engage readers, know the best practices for different platforms, and research customers’ most common problems can provide the perfect tools for customer success.
Contributed by Alexa Lemzy. She is the customer service manager at TextMagic and writes for business blogs across the web.